A three-year-old girl has been raped and killed by two men who dumped her body before claiming she had been sacrificed for ‘black magic’, police say.
Investigators in India said the two suspects tied a cloth around the toddler’s face while they raped and choked her before dumping her body in a dam in Chhindwara in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Her body was found on July 20, three days after she had been reported missing, and had reportedly been stuffed in a sack before it was thrown into the dam.
Police investigators told the Times of India the two suspects tried to ‘misguide police’ by spreading rumours that the girl had been the victim of a dark ritual.
Police superintendent Vivek Agarwal said: “They raped the child, killed her, and disposed the body – all within one hour.
“They tried to misguide police during investigation and spread rumours that someone had probably sacrificed the girl for black magic.”
Police had quizzed more than 300 people about the girl’s disappearance before the two suspects, aged 21 and 23, were arrested on Tuesday.
New tougher laws on rape and child abuse has been introduced in India following a series of high-profile cases.
In 2017 the death penalty for child rapists and gang rape was brought in by authorities in Madhya Pradesh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi later rolled out the death penalty for raping girls under 12 across the entire country.
Last December a four-month-old baby died after she was allegedly raped by her 30-year-old cousin at a family wedding.
The tot’s parents were at the wedding in Daudnager, when the cousin is claimed to have asked his aunt if he could take her daughter away to play.
The tiny child was found unconscious on the wedding venue’s lawn with her cousin.
Last July a seven-year-old girl in Jaipur was raped by a man riding a motorbike.
She was abducted, raped and left by the roadside by her attacker.
The ‘heinous’ crime sparked widespread rioting and a fierce manhunt for the culprit which saw protesters torch cars outside the hospital where the girl was being treated.